Who killed this patient?
There were huge banners. People were happy, dancing to the most recent Bollywood item song, throwing colours and distributing sweets. Their big leaders, standing perpetually garlanded in a decorated open vehicle were smiling lovingly at people, returning “Namaskars (Salutations)”, and intermittently instructing the “key followers” about the whole process.
Behind this was a congregation of at least a thousand cars, buses, trucks and two wheelers, and also an ambulance, from the window part of which everyone could see the tense faces upon which tears rolled.
The intern doctor sitting besides the ambulance driver knew me. From six cars away, he shouted : “stroke, stable, in window period, three hours now” meaning that the patient may be given one injection if he/she could reach hospital within ninety more minutes, that can potentially reverse stroke, and save disability and / or life. “Time is Brain” in stroke, we are hammered, “Time lost is Brain Lost”.
The traffic police were too occupied with the procession to attend the ambulance. There were threats of bomb blasts, so they had to safeguard the VIPs. Some young students parked their bikes and started to rearrange traffic to make way for the ambulance, and gave up when they met the blank, expressionless stares of people who won’t move, often demeaningly reminding those students that they were not traffic police. The whole procession behind the celebration was that of stuck, delayed, cursing working class of all socio-economic levels, wishing that they hadn’t left the house today. Each one of them would have to apologise to many, listen to humiliating words from their bosses or miss some important assignment / meeting / interview / exams. Some would miss chances of a lifetime.
One of the most frustrating thing to witness as a doctor in India is this blockade of the ambulances, along with the working class and public transport due to morchas (processions/ mass protest) / VIP bundobast and celebrations ranging from election victories, marriages and various other socio-religious occasions. What is the fun in causing distress to someone else by blocking traffic? Why cannot these be banned on the roads meant for public transport? There are umpteen grounds / lawns and other venues in almost all cities where people can gather to celebrate saving the disinterested from a day’s distress.
There is no objection to celebration or cultural / social / religious occasions. But causing delays and discomfort to the public and those in an emergency is criminal. There must definitely be laws against causing blockage to traffic when granting permissions to such processions, but these laws are hardly any use once the processions are on the road. Also, why should the already scanty and overworked police force suffer the heavy duty management and stress of such private celebrations? This waste of manpower and public resources is enormous, if one can imagine that there are literally thousands of such events happening daily all over the country.
Political / social / religious celebrations and VIP bundobast have become the “Show of Might” events at the cost of public funds and discomfort. There must be designated areas for bigger congregations outside the city, avoiding rush hour jams that are torture and harassment to the working class.
Add to this the deafening (and often vulgar) music. What God in which religion would like it? How unpleasant are these scenes of drunken vulgar dancers on the streets, swinging and making gestures with the screeching music? That hard drinks are openly served on the road in soft-drink bottles is no secret, neither are the “special cars” serving these. How religious is this, and why the bigwigs and “Respected” people don’t talk about it? Why don’t the different sect heads / religious heads guide people that this is no way to appease any God, and God is found only within oneself, that too when one gives up causing any pain to anyone else?
The dirt left back, the mess, colours, the paper dishes, glasses, filth from burst crackers etc.. is the nightmare for the municipal workers the next day. The “clean city” initiative is thus raped virtually by many such processions.
In a country where hunger and lack of medical treatments kills thousands, where ‘beggars with sick kids on each road’ has become one of our identities, where farmers commit suicide because of loans and poverty, where the words “Lack Of Funds” star upon each page of explanations wherever the government needs to provide facilities, where does all this ‘affluence’ to celebrate in lacs / crores come from?
If only all the money involved in the “Victory, Bail, Jail release etc.” celebrations, socio-religious functions and decorations of various types, “Power demonstration procession” funds go towards the development of good healthcare facilities in India, we can provide excellent healthcare services to the millions who deserve them. That will definitely not anger any God, nor take away the “image” some leaders want in public eyes.
That intern doctor who worked at another hospital met me after about three days, with a black eye. “We reached late, sir. The patient had a convulsion on the way and by the time we reached he was gasping. The relatives beat up the casualty staff and even me. I feel like leaving this profession sir”.
If legally analysed, who is guilty here and must be punished? Many will use the words “System”, and say we are the society, we are the system, for that has become our new language now.
For we are scared to accept that there are two societies in India: The Carers and the Care-nots. The civilized and the powerful. The life of a common man can easily be sacrificed, and the blames can easily be pinned upon the hospitals.
This patient would have survived if he reached hospital in time. He deserved it. Who killed him?
As for the garlanded leaders who take public discomfort for granted to satisfy their ego-parades, some of them do really deserve those garlands. Plenty.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
PS: I have seen some rare traffic policemen going out of the way to clear way for ambulances. Rare.
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